A judicial review could be held into the government’s approval of a major wind farm that is planned for construction 47 kilometres off the north Norfolk coast.
The High Court has granted permission for a challenge to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma’s decision to grant consent for the 1.8-gigawatt Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm, a development of 158 turbines.
The challenge is being brought by Ray Pearce, who lives in Salle, near Reepham, opposite to where a cable trench for Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas, another project planned by Swedish state-owned energy company Vattenfall, would cross over cabling from a third planned wind farm, the 2.4-gigawatt Hornsea Project Three, proposed by Danish multinational power company Ørsted.
Mr Pearce maintains that the secretary of state unlawfully excluded from consideration the cumulative effects of the Norfolk Vanguard wind farm taken together with its sister project, Norfolk Boreas.
Both wind farm projects plan to share onshore infrastructure, but are subject to separate applications for development consent.
Mr Pearce said this masks the huge cumulative impacts on the Norfolk landscape and rural vista by the building of two substation extensions at Necton, with a footprint the size of Wembley Stadium, and the digging of a 60-kilometre cable trench across the county.
The underground cable trenches from the Vattenfall and Ørsted wind farms are planned to cross in a field north of Reepham on land owned by Salle Park Estate.
Mr Pearce, a former RAF and commercial airline pilot, has launched an online campaign to fund the legal costs, estimated at £16,000, for a judicial review, which is due to be heard in the New Year.
“I strongly support the use of renewable wind power electricity, which is a wonderful progression for the people of the UK,” he said.
“But I do not agree with the exploitation of this valuable resource by private companies intent on building transmission systems that will severely damage the environment they were supposed to save and causing chaos for Norfolk’s people.”
Mr Pearce said that if the challenge is successful, the decision to approve the Norfolk Vanguard project will be quashed and the secretary of state will have to reconsider his decision.
He added that as part of a government review into offshore wind energy, National Grid recently announced that an integrated Offshore Transmission Network, connecting offshore wind farms together, could save consumers £6 billion without the need for inland substations and cable trenches.
Mr Pearce, who has lived in Norfolk for more than 30 years, said: “The adoption of offshore wind power is a positive step for reducing climate change. However, despite all the benefits wind power affords, damaging the onshore environment is just not necessary when there is an identified and effective alternative.”
A Vattenfall spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with local communities right through the development of Norfolk Vanguard to understand the key issues and put forward the best possible design for the project.
“Our plans, including mitigations we introduced during our conversations with stakeholders, were robustly scrutinised during the examination process, and subsequently assessed and approved by the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.
“Keeping this project on track is crucial in meeting the net-zero decarbonisation target while supporting post Covid-19 Green Recovery and economic growth in the UK, in particular a major economic boost to East Anglia.”
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See our earlier stories:
- Offshore wind farm gets government approval
- Broadland MP backs offshore ring main to connect large wind farms